5 UK Medical Museums Packed with History

If you are a medical professional with a fascination for medical history, then a trip to one of the following museums should not disappoint.

From insights into the history of surgery, anaesthesia and nursing over the past 500 years, they promise a plethora of medical tales and treasures to fascinate both young and old.

1. The Old Operating Theatre Museum

If you are interested in visiting an operating theatre from the 1800’s, then The Old Operating Theatre Museum in South East London is just the ticket. In fact, the museum is Europe’s oldest surviving operating theatre, having been created for the women’s ward of St. Thomas’s Hospital in 1822.

As well as hosting a lot of fun and fascinating events, the museum promises plenty of opportunity to immerse yourself in the realities of early surgery.

Just sign up for the museum’s Victorian Surgery Talk to observe, from the same position as a medical student of the time, a mock demonstration of surgery before anaesthetics. Alternatively, why not sign up for The Gore Tour, which will take you through some of the most grizzly surgical instruments ever designed and describe how they were used?

For more information on The Old Operating Theatre Museum.

2. Royal College of Physicians Museum

If you want to explore medical history in the UK even further back in time, then the Royal College of Physicians Museum will not disappoint.

Based in Regent’s Park, its collections have been amassed for over 500 years, having been founded by Royal Charter of Henry VIII in 1518.

Amongst its collections are a rare set of six anatomical tables which display human veins, nerves and arteries dissected at Padua’s famous anatomy theatre in the 17th century.

Another fascinating exhibit at the RCP Museum is a chest of surgical instruments that had once belonged either to eminent 17th Century physician, Sir Francis Prujean or his son Thomas. Having survived the Great Fire of London and the Blitz, the chest includes instruments for obstetrics, trepanation, bullet extraction, amputation and much more.

To find out more about the Royal College of Physicians Museum.

3. Thackray Medical Museum

Based in Leeds, Yorkshire, the Thackray Medical Museum contains over 47,000 items of medical equipment and promises an immersive, interactive experience to entertain both young and old.

Offering visitors the chance to take a journey of discovery into the incredible story of medicine, there are loads of events and experiences to enjoy, such as a trip to the Victorian quack doctor or insights into the frightening world of surgery before the discovery of pain relief.

For more information on the Thackray Medical Museum.

4. Anaesthesia Heritage Centre Museum

If you are interested in the history of anaesthesia, resuscitation and pain relief, then you will really enjoy a visit to London’s Anaesthesia Heritage Centre Museum.

Telling the remarkable story of anaesthesia, from its first public demonstration in 1846 to the work of modern day anaesthetists during wars and terrorist attacks, the museum is full of fascinating objects dating back to a resuscitation set of 1774.

For more information on the Anaesthesia Heritage Centre Museum.

5. Royal College of Nursing Library & Heritage Centre

If you are interested in the history of nursing then a visit to the Royal College of Nursing Library & Heritage Centre will definitely be worth your while.

Located in Marylebone in London, its programme of fascinating events gives insight into aspects of nursing as diverse as hospital hygiene in 1901 through to nursing during the 2014/15 ebola crisis in Sierra Leone.

Its exhibitions are also very interesting and not only explore nursing history, but also celebrate nursing and diversity in the profession.

In addition, the RCN library contains 54,000 books, 1,100 eJournals and 30,000 online eBooks, making it a great resource for both academic research and general interest.

To find out more about the Royal College of Nursing Library & Heritage Centre